Broadcast’s dog-and-pony shows in New York City are finally over, but the walk-up to the fall 2012-2013 lineup has only just begun. Before we start wringing our hands over Britney Spears’ emotional readiness to be a reality show judge, we have some knee-jerk reactions to what we saw and heard this week:
Biggest trend: Comedy explosion. There’s 29 sitcoms hitting the air this fall – and we’re not including Rock Center With Brian Williams. That’s an enormous number of couches, awkward dates and workplace misunderstandings. Tuesdays will be a three-network comedy traffic jam, while ABC and NBC will offload extra chuckles into Fridays.
Highest concept: Lost godfather J.J. Abrams’ latest sci-fi series, NBC’s Revolution, has a spectacular trailer (thanks to pilot director Jon Favreau) and sky-high concept (set 15 years after every electronic gadget has ceased working). Will “It’s going to turn off!” be the new “We have to go back!”?
Most deserved recent cancellation: GCB (ABC: 7.4 million, 2.6). Desperate Housewives hadn’t even wrapped, and along comes Desperate Rehash, an unfunny attempt at replicating its success.
Least deserved cancellation: Terra Nova. From what we gathered, it came down to saving this show or Touch – and Fox oddly chose the latter. Too bad; for all it’s faults, Terra Nova built a good family following and had plenty of room for creative growth.
Least deserved cancellation runner-up: Rob. Readers will say we’re going to hell for this, but at 12 million viewers for a critically despised comedy, the show demonstrated that, like it or not, Rob Schneider can draw an audience. Why not retool it – like, maybe, de-hotting his wife a bit so the relationship seems more believable – rather than scrap it entirely?
Most ho-hum show pickup: NBC’s Guys With Kids. We get it, it’s soooo hard being a modern man (for further proof, look at this season’s Man Up!, How to Be a Gentleman and Work It).
Best new show title: CBS’ Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary. It’s not fancy, just strong, simple and evokes the voice of its famed detective. CBS knows how to make a TV show that’ll stick and this, starring the dashing Jonny Lee Miller as modern-day Sherlock, looks promising.
Worst new show title: CBS again! Also, for the second year in a row (remember, The 2-2?). The detective drama Golden Boy just makes the protagonist sound like a suck-up, or well tanned.
Most potentially politically loaded new show title: NBC’s The New Normal. We suspect Ryan Murphy didn’t consult The Tea Party when naming his comedy about a gay couple who hires a surrogate.
Shows the media were most surprised didn’t make it on the air: Roseanne Barr’s multi-camera comedy Downwardly Mobile and Sarah Silverman’s much-buzzed sitcom, both at NBC; Martin Lawrence comedy at CBS; the John Stamos comedy Little Brother at Fox; the Judy Greer comedy at ABC. (For more about the fall pilots that didn’t earn a pickup, click here).
Show we’re secretly relieved didn’t make it on the air: NBC’s County starring Jason Ritter. Now maybe his character, Mark, can work it out with Sarah on Parenthood?
Best Good/Bad News: NBC renews Community – for only 13 episodes, moves it to Fridays this fall and pairs it with Whitney. NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt: “Most people in our industry think Friday is a graveyard, but we don’t really believe that.” All those tombstones must be there for decoration then!
The Kyle Killen Award – a show critics will like, but might have trouble finding a large audience: Last Resort. A morally complex, male-skewing apocalyptic bonanza about a submarine crew wedged in a haunted time slot (Thursdays at 8 p.m.) on a female-skewing network (ABC). Still, this looks way more user friendly than Killen’s Lone Star and Awake.